Top 5 declining American jobs

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A study conducted by Oxford University in 2013 found that over the next decade 47 percent of all jobs in the country are at risk of being substantially diminished or phased out completely as a result of automation and advances in information technology.

The five fastest declining occupations in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are locomotive firers, respiratory therapy technicians, parking enforcement workers, word processors and typists and watch repairers.

However, the list in its entirety showed thirty total occupations and included fields such as legal secretaries, computer operators, postmasters, machine setters and aircraft structure assemblers.

According to the Oxford study, the common thread in these career paths are they date back to the 19th Century or, for jobs like computer operators, are falling prey to user-friendly technology that anyone—not just someone with a specialized skills set—can use.

“The days of shedding your uniform and automatically heading to the local foundry or railroad company for a decent paying job are rapidly ending,” said National Employment Director Jeff Hall. “Transitioning veterans can offset this trend by strengthening their resumes and qualifications with higher education or staying apprised of alternative careers.”

Hall cited the top career field in decline as an example.

“Last year, the median annual salary for locomotive firers was $58,230,” he said. “But that job will have a nearly 80 percent attrition rate by 2026 because of more efficient computer systems and an industry shift from five-person crews to three-person crews operating a train.

“A veteran interested in a job like this should probably consider an alternative job – like railroad conductor or subway operator,” Hall said.

According to the BLS, the need for subway operators will increase by five percent by 2024 and the average annual wage is $62,380.

“The data suggests it’s not a best practice to have all your eggs in one basket when considering that next career move,” said Hall. “I encourage fellow veterans to be aware of the trends, look for what is going to provide meaningful employment for them, and always be aware of alternative jobs.”

The entire list of fastest declining occupations is available here.  More employment resources for veterans are available at